I ask students to come to the meeting place rug so that we can learn about a new part of the human body.
We go over the K-W-L chart that we have worked on throughout the unit. We review the questions that we asked in previous lessons and we review what we learned about the heart and lungs.
I will add any additional questions that may arise during our conversations.
After reviewing what we have already learned about the human body, I ask the students, "When we eat food, what do you think happens to it?"
Typically I get a few students who will know that when we eat and drink, we "use the bathroom", as they would say. I like to bring that subject up because it is a great opportunity to talk about the fact that "everyone uses the bathroom". Students find this topic hilarious. I make a point to tell them that it really isn't a humorous subject, it's just how the body works.
It is likely that students will say that our food goes into our stomach or tummy. I will justify their answers and say something like, "Yes! You are right. Today we are going to learn about our tummy or "stomach" and what happens to the food that we eat."
Learning about the stomach and intestines helps students to understand why eating and drinking is important for the human body and help students understand how the process of digestion works.
After having a discussion about where our food goes when we eat it, I ask the students to quietly get up and go to their seats so that we can observe a simulation of what happens to our food when we eat.
When the students get to their seats, I get out a graham cracker. I hold the cracker up to show the students that it is a whole cracker. I ask students, "If I wanted to eat this cracker, what would I do?"
I'm looking for students to tell me that I should take a bite and chew it up. I may need to probe for the answer I'm looking for by asking questions like, "Can I just put this whole cracker in my mouth like this? Do I need to do something to the cracker in order to eat it?"
When I hear a student give the answer I'm looking for, I will then demonstrate with a clear Ziploc bag with some water in it. I teach the students that our stomach is like a bag inside of our body and that the Ziploc bag is going to simulate what our stomach does to food. I talk about how there is liquid in our stomach that helps to break food down in to smaller parts.
I take a part of the cracker and put it in the bag and zip the bag up.
"When we chew our food and swallow, it goes down our esophagus and into our stomach." (I will show them where these parts are on our felt human body named Jack)
With the Ziploc, I gently squeeze the bag to show the students that the liquid in our stomachs will break up the food into tiny bits. You only want to squeeze the bag a little bit so that there are bigger chunks of the cracker in the water.
Then, I ask students, "Where does the food go after it is in the stomach?"
Most of the time, the students are unable to answer this question. However, there have been a few times in my career when a student knows that the food that we don't use in our body comes out. In their words, "we go to the bathroom".
I respond to the answers from students as needed.
Then I continue with the simulation. I show the students the intestines on the felt human body. I explain to them that we have a large intestine and a small intestine and that their job is to use the important vitamins that our body need and to expose of the rest.
We talk about why our bodies need to "go to the bathroom" and that liquid waste comes in the form of urine and solid waste is feces. Kindergarten students tend to get a little silly during this part of the lesson. I explain to them that they may think it is silly but all humans do this and it is a normal process of our body.
After getting them settled from the talk of our intestines, I go on to simulate how the intestines break the food up even further into tinier pieces. I show the students a clear pastry bag. I tell them that we are going to pretend that the pastry bag is our intestines. I poor the mixture from the "stomach" into the "intestines" and squeeze the pastry bag to show the students that now the cracker is being broken down into tiny pieces.
During the simulation, I will ask the students questions to get them thinking further. Questions I may ask include:
What happened to the cracker when we put it in the bag (stomach)?
How did the cracker change when it went from the stomach to the intestines?
After watching the simulation of what happens to a cracker from the stomach to the intestines, I close the lesson by reviewing the K-W-L chart. We check the chart to see if we can answer any unanswered questions and add those. We also add what we have learned about the stomach and intestines.
We continue to add to the chart in order to reflect on our learning and to add any outstanding questions. This helps students to review but to also use their own thinking and questioning skills. It gets the students thinking bigger.